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Tokyo cancels ‘The Cove’ screenings

Oscar-winning doc left without a venue in Japanese capitol

Two more theaters have canceled screenings of the Academy Award-winning docu “The Cove,” leaving distributor Unplugged with zero venues in Tokyo.

Cinemart Roppongi in Tokyo and Cinemart Shinsaibashi in Osaka were among the 26 venues that Unplugged had lined up for the pic’s skedded June 26 release. But owner SPO Entertainment decided to bail after a rightist group gave notice that its members would descend on the theaters in sound trucks. SPO told Unplugged that the ensuing noise would disturb nearby businesses and individuals, as well as prevent patrons from enjoying the film “in a peaceful atmosphere.”

On Thursday, “The Cove”‘s main Tokyo venue, Theater N, had given similar reasons for canceling screenings of the pic.

The Louie Psihoyos docu about the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan has been attacked by right-wingers as anti-Japanese. The same group that forced the screening cancellations has also demonstrated at the Tokyo office of Unplugged and the house of Unplugged prexy Takeshi Kato. Meanwhile, harassing phone calls have plagued into the distrib, as well as theaters planning to show the pic.

It remains to be seen whether rightists will also go after the remaining 23 venues — and how many will stand up to the pressure.

In 2008 rightists also mounted a protest campaign against “Yasukuni,” a docu about a controversial Tokyo shrine that has enshrined the souls of Japan’s war dead, including Class A war criminals. Several theaters canceled, but the pic finally opened, three weeks later that skedded, in May 2008 in more than 20 venues around the country.

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